Ask any group of pirates and they’ll tell you bone-chilling tales of terror on the open seas. From hurricanes to tsunamis, sailing the oceans can be a perilous business. But weather isn’t the only danger to contend with. There’s always the fear of being attacked by gigantic sea creatures!

Or at least that’s what most pirates will tell you. But can you really believe them? After all, pirates can be a shifty bunch.

There are certainly plenty of legends that pirates can point to as evidence of their fear of humongous sea monsters. One such legendary creature is called the Kraken. These legendary massive sea monsters supposedly lived in the depths of the sea off the coasts of Norway and Iceland.

Kraken comes from the German word for octopus. This is probably why artists have often painted the Kraken as a large creature with many arms that could reach as high as the top of a ship’s main mast.

Legends hold that the Kraken would attack a ship and sink it by wrapping its many arms around the ship. The ship’s crew would either drown or be eaten by the monster.

Almost certainly mythical tales, the Kraken legends may have been based in part on a real creature: the giant squid. Giant squid have long tentacles and can grow up to 40-50 feet in length. They usually live deep in the sea, but they’ve been known to surface and attack ships from time to time.

The Kraken gained literary fame in 1830 when Alfred Tennyson published his sonnet called The Kraken. In it, he described a huge sea creature that lived in the depths of the ocean:

Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Today, the Kraken is alive and well in popular culture, including video games and theme park rides. Two recent movies — Clash of the Titans and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — have also featured exciting scenes in which the Kraken attacks from the depths of the sea!


136 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (51 votes, avg. 4.61 out of 5)
    • Thanks so much for letting us know you liked today’s Wonder, Kristin! We appreciate hearing that! We also like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder! :-)

    • Hello, Gloria! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today! We hope you’ll explore today’s Wonder about the Kraken to learn some cool facts about this legendary sea monster! :-)

    • We like the way your Wonder brains are thinking today, Mrs. Genkin’s Class! Thanks for making us WONDER about the connection between the Kraken and other famous sea (and lake) monsters, too! You guys ROCK! :-)

    • That’s a GREAT guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, Ms Bayko’s class! Thanks so much for sharing it with us today! We think skunks would be something AWESOME (and super smelly) to WONDER about! :-)

    • Thanks for checking out today’s Wonder about the Kraken and sharing your thoughts with us, Cole! We hope you have a SUPER, WONDERful, AWESOME, GREAT day! :-)

    • We’ll have to do some more WONDERing about that book, Van Dyk #3! A sea monster who tries to makes peace with the Earth and ocean sounds like a really cool story! Thanks for sharing about it with everyone in Wonderopolis today! :-)

  1. We think Krakens are really, REALLY BIG! The video was cool and we liked watching it. We think Krakens are also very dangerous. Have you ever watched one of those movies? Of course, we know it isn’t real, but it’s cool to think about. Thanks for the great WONDER! Tomorrow’s wonder might be about skunks or stink bugs!

    • We DO think it’s super cool how Hollywood special effects can make it look like the Kraken is that big and that destructive, Mr. Draper’s Class! We are really proud of you guys for WONDERing about sea monsters and movie-making today! Skunks and stink bugs are both smelly creatures that we think would be FUN to learn about, too! :-)

    • That’s an AWESOME question, Amanda! You can learn all about the legend of the Kraken by exploring the great text, links and video for today’s Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for being an AMAZING Wonder Friend! :-)

    • That’s AWESOME, Van Dyk #3! We really can’t wait to read it! We’ve got to head over to the Wonderopolis post office later today…we’ll be sure to ask the Postmaster if we have any WONDERful Wonder Mail waiting for us! :-)

  2. I thought today’s wonder of the day was awesome. I have always WONDERed what the Kraken was, so you just answered all my questions. I think you guys are great and I cant wait to see tomorrow’s wonder of the day. I can try to get back to you guys asap. I’ll see you guys later.

    • Happy Wednesday, Gracemor! We sure appreciate your comment today! Thanks for letting us know you have always WONDERed about the Kraken…we thought it was AWESOME to learn about such a big sea monster, too! We’re glad you’re excited about learning in Wonderopolis! That makes us SUPER happy to hear! :-)

    • We like that guess, Rahul! We WONDER if we’ll all be learning about skunks or some other type of stinky, foul-smelling creature? We can’t wait to find out! :-)

  3. We liked the video clip. We don’t ever want to meet a Kracken! ;)

    We think tomorrow’s wonder might about how skunks make that terrible smell.

    • We agree with you guys about not ever wanting to meet that scary Kraken, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! We think we’ll be happy just watching about it in movies and reading about it in books! Thanks for sharing your idea for what tomorrow’s Wonder might be about…skunks really do make a terrible smell, don’t they? :-)

  4. I liked today’s wonder. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be why are people fat not in a mean way! This is my first time writing to wonderopolis and I think it’s so fun!!!! :p

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Bella! We’re so glad you’re here! Thank you for sharing your comment with us and letting us know what you think tomorrow’s Wonder might be about. Have a WONDERful day! :-)

  5. Our 4th grade class loved learning about the Kraken today. We especially enjoyed the video clip, it was exciting.

    Some of us think the Kraken was a giant squid, seen by pirates, that has been made into a tall tale over the years. Others think the Kraken is real and out there! We also think it could be friends with the Loch Ness Monster! :)

    Our guess for tomorrow has to do with a stinky skunk!

    • We think the Kraken and the Loch Ness Monster being friends is something REALLY creative to WONDER about, Mrs. Schrader’s class! We can just imagine them sitting around a table at the Underwater Monster Cafe, sharing a burger and some fries, and talking about all the FUN they had scaring people and hiding from video cameras that day! Those silly, silly sea monsters! :-)

    • That’s a really great question, Tanner! We’re not sure about sea monsters in lakes, but we’re WONDERing now, too! We have had some fun with other Wonder Friends today thinking how neat it would be if the Kraken and the Loch Ness Monster were best buddies! :-)

  6. We also have a book titled Tentacles, by Ronald Smith, in our classroom library. It is about a boy who wants to find out if krakens and the Loch Ness Monster really exist. He travels everywhere in search of proof.

    • That sounds like quite an exciting adventure to read about, Mrs. Schrader! We will have to “check out” that book the next time we visit the Wonderopolis Library! Thank you for letting us know about it and THANK YOU for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We have WONDERed about that, too, Mrs. Foster’s Class! We think it’s because it would make for some pretty unexciting legends and tales if the Kraken was just a average-sized sea creature with a cheerful disposition. We think it’s MUCH MORE creative to think of him (or her!) as a HUGE beast who’s always having a bad day, don’t you guys? :-)

    • Lots of people think the legend of the Kraken was based on sightings of a giant squid, Abi! We encourage you to re-explore today’s Wonder of the Day® to learn even MORE cool facts! :-)

    • That’s OK, Van Dyk #3! We’ll enjoy reading it when it arrives! Have a GREAT day and THANK YOU for being an AMAZING Wonder Friend! :-)

    • That’s a really WONDERful guess, IDKA! Thanks for sharing what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! :-)

    • WOW, that WOULD be really cool, Hector! We bet it might be a bit expensive to feed a pet Kraken, though. And you’d have to have a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY big fish tank! :-)

  7. Today’s wonder was amazing, especially because where I know the Kraken is from is Pirates of the Caribbean. I love that movie because of Johnny Depp and I think that it has an awesome story line. Thanks for giving us this wonder.
    Keep wondering
    I’m a girl, btw

    • Hello, Danie! We’re glad you liked learning about the Kraken today! Thank you for sharing your background knowledge about and enthusiasm for that super cool movie, too! :-)

    • It makes us super happy that you guys liked exploring today’s Wonder together, Domminic and Miranda! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! :-)

    • A future Wonder about movie myths sounds like a GREAT idea, Emma! Thank you for suggesting it! We hope you had a GREAT time in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • That really IS something to WONDER about, isn’t it, Anissa? We’re not sure if the Kraken is real, but we like hearing all the stories about it! Thank you so much for sharing your question with us today! :-)

    • We like that question a lot, Hayley! Maybe the Kraken is just always in a super bad mood? Maybe he (or she) destroys ships because they look like little toys to a creature that’s so BIG?! :-)

  8. The video was from Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t it? I think it would be a great idea to make a WONDER about wizards. I got the idea because I play a game called wizard 101 which has a kraken spell on it. Keep up the awesome WONDERS! ;)

    • Thanks for suggesting a future Wonder about wizards, WONDERman! We appreciate you telling us a little about yourself and sharing something you like to do for fun (besides exploring Wonderopolis, of course). :-)

    • We’re really glad that so many of our Wonder Friends (like YOU!) enjoyed the video for today’s Wonder, Leah! Thanks for letting us know you were one of them! Have a WONDERful rest of the day! :-)

  9. Hi wonderopolis!! I am from Mr.Draper’s class. I think that the Kraken is really, really cool. :) What do you think? Can you put up a wonder about chameleons and how they change colors? If there was a Kraken would you ever go sailing on the sea again? I wouldn’t!!
    Have an awesome day!!!:)

    • Hi there, Andrya! Thanks for visiting today’s Wonder on your own even though you guys visited as a class today…that ROCKS! It’s super interesting to think about a Kraken being real. We know that many parts of the ocean have never been explored before. Who knows what WONDERful creatures might be out there that we haven’t met yet?

      We like your idea for a future Wonder about chameleons! A little Wonder birdie told us that there might be a Wonder coming up in the near future that you will REALLY enjoy (wink, wink)! ;-)

  10. Hi my name is Lexi and I am new and I think the Kraken is scary. I am wondering about the next wonder, I hope it is not about sharks I am terrified of sharks.

    I am twin sisters with Andrya.

    • It’s nice to meet you, Lexi! Welcome to Wonderopolis! We think it’s SO NEAT that Andrya shared about us with you! We hope you have as much fun exploring Wonders and learning new things here as we do! :-)

  11. WOW, I really don’t want to meet the Kraken and the color of the animal was blue isn’t it supposed to be Pink OR red???? THX

    • Hello, Sydney! We really wouldn’t like to meet the Kraken, either! We think different people throughout history have portrayed the Kraken with different coloration. Thanks for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing how you felt about today’s Wonder of the Day®, Isha! We appreciate your comment and really like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, too! :-)

  12. We were wondering how big a giant squid’s actual size is and what the Kraken would of eaten if there were no ships around.

    • That’s some AWESOME extra WONDERing about giant squid and the Kraken, Mrs. Ware’s Class! Way to go! We thought it was awesome to learn that giant squid can grow to be as long as 40 to 50 feet! That’s REALLY BIG! We think it’s also FUN to WONDER what else the Kraken would eat besides ships…maybe other sea monsters? :-)

  13. All I can say is wow! I loved It I was not scared at all!! It was awesome! Oh, and I think tomorrow’s wonder is about gas because gas stinks!!

    • We like that guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, Muskaan! Thanks for sharing it with us and THANK YOU for letting us know how much you enjoyed today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  14. Today’s wonder is awesome. I wonder if the Kranken is related to a squid or an octopus.
    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about cheetahs or summertime. In Texas, it is SO HOT in the summer.

    • We think cheetahs and summertime are both AMAZING things to WONDER about, Maddie! Thank you for letting us know what you think tomorrow’s Wonder might be! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis in the morning to see if one of your guesses is correct!

  15. Scary video but really, really, really, really, really, really, really cool. Does Rahul ever stop going on here.

    • We think Rahul is a GREAT Wonder Friend who leaves us AMAZING comments, Emilie! We appreciate every visit and comment we receive from ALL of our Wonder Friends (like YOU!)! Thank you for letting us know that you thought the video for today’s Wonder was scary but cool. :-)

    • Those are all WONDERful guesses, Emilie! Thank you for sharing your ideas for what tomorrow’s Wonder might be about! :-)

    • We were WONDERing if any of our WONDERful Wonder Friends would say, “Release the Kraken!” Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today, Mr. B., and thanks for making us smile with your comment! :-)

  16. 1. Mr. B. stole my “Release the Kraken” joke.
    2. I’ve heard of Cthulu, a deity/monster Kraken-like squid that drives whoever sees it insane.

    • Hello, Rey! Thanks for sharing this GREAT comment with us today! That Cthulu creature is SCARY! Thanks for teaching us something cool and interesting today! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your opinion of the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Dom-n-ick! We’re happy you thought the video and text were informative! Have a WONDERful day! :-)

  17. Hey WONDERman, I play wizard101,too!
    Today’s wonder was kraken-ish.
    I came up with a funny joke about today’s wonder…
    here it is:
    What did the squid say to the loch ness monster?
    “let’s get krakin!”

    • We really like that joke, YuGiOhNinja! Sea monster humor is AWESOME! Thanks for visiting this Wonder and letting us know what you thought about it! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We love learning in Wonderopolis, too, Ryan…it’s WONDERful! Thanks for sharing your comment with us and letting us know you thought the video for today’s Wonder was awesome! :-)

    • Hi, deantesman! We search high and low for the best video to go along with each Wonder of the Day®! Sometimes we find the best video on YouTube, but sometimes it might be found on Vimeo or another video library website. Sometimes the video might explain the Wonder topic better, and sometimes we choose a video that just goes along with the Wonder, but doesn’t really explain anything specific…sometimes the videos are just FUN to watch! We thought a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean would be a GREAT way to show how Hollywood portrays the Kraken! :-)

    • We like this Wonder of the Day® a whole bunch, too, Cindy! Thanks for letting us know you thought it was really good! It was SUPER FUN to learn about the Kraken! :-)

  18. It is so cool if I can breathe under water and see a Kraken with my two eyes and see some good-looking merman.

    • Thanks for sharing another WONDERful comment with us today, Cindy! We’re so very glad you stopped by Wonderopolis for some SUPER FUN learning with us! :-)

    • We’re glad you enjoyed the video for this Wonder about the Kraken, Rithik! Thanks for letting us know you thought it was the best! :-)

    • Great Wonder, Brandon– we are not sure! We bet there is some more information about the Kraken sightings– we Wonder if you can do some research of your own! We would LOVE to see what you find, Wonder Friend! :)

  19. Hello! I was WONDERING if you could put up something about The Jersey Devil! Plus, I LOVED the text! I thought that The Kraken was a giant lobster! Oops… Can you also consider sending me a video about The Roc? Yes that is how you spell it. I also hope you will put up the video. Bye!

    • Hey there, Libby! We’re super excited that you’ve been doing some WONDERing of your own! We’re glad that you learned about the Kraken, too! While we won’t be able to send you any videos or change the Wonder video, we sure are glad that you have been doing a great job of researching other things that you’ve been WONDERing about! Way to go! :)

  20. Thanks! I will undoubtedly, positively, definitely be coming here often! I think I spelled “definitely” wrong… Thanks for trying ,anyways! ;-)

    • That’s great news, Libby! We are happy that you will be visiting Wonderopolis more often– it’s so much fun to Wonder with great friends like you! :)

    • HOORAY, our Wonder Friend Taylor is here today! We appreciate your comment– it’s great to know that you enjoyed WONDERing about the Kraken with us! :)

    • Hi there YIN! We’re glad you are WONDERing with us today! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the Kraken! We Wonder how many movies you have seen that feature the Kraken? :)

  21. I think the KRAKEN is fake. I think the person who started it saw a big octopus or squid and went around telling people it is bigger than it realy is.

    • Hey there Kailey! That’s a great theory, we are excited that you shared your thoughts about the Kraken with us! Nice work, Wonder Friend! :)

  22. I think maybe a long time ago there was a kraken. I mean dinosaurs were real so why not a giant squid? My dad says there was more air when the dinosaures were around so things were bigger. So although it probably wouldn’t have been like it is usually described I belive it was possible there was a giant octopus or squid living in the oceans in prehistoric times.

    • We think you make a great point, Kat! Who knows– if dinosaurs could roam the Earth, who is to say that a giant squid didn’t exist in the sea! We will keep WONDERing about the Kraken! Thanks for commenting today! :)

    • That’s a great suggestion, thank you so much, Eliana! We are always looking for new Wonders, especially from our awesome Wonder Friends! :)

    • Hey Cool5, thanks for visiting us today! It sounds like you have been doing some research and WONDERing of your own about the Kraken! Thanks for sharing what you already know and what you’re interested in, too! We are sending you a virtual high five! :)

    • Hey Alex, we’re glad you enjoyed our Wonder about the Kraken! Perhaps you’ll watch Pirates of the Caribbean in the future and you’ll see it in the movie! Thank you for visiting us, we can’t wait to Wonder with you again soon! :)

    • That’s a great Wonder suggestion, Cool5! We are so glad you’ve been sharing your very own Wonders with us! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend! We are glad you’re thinking about other cool Wonders of your own! :)

    • Great idea, Aryndelle! We are so glad you’ve been thinking about other questions and Wonders you have, especially about the infamous Kraken! We wish we knew exactly where the Kraken comes from, but we’ll have to use our imaginations instead! :)

  23. I thought that the Kraken sounded pretty scary! After having the visual of the Kraken attacking the ship, it scares me to think that giant squids actually do attack ships occasionally. Is it even possible for something that big to grow?

    • We’re HAPPY to report that the video isn’t real and neither are krakens, Caroline! Good thing! :) We hope the next time you visit Wonderopolis you visit a Wonder that isn’t SO SCARY! :)

    • Thanks for leaving us a great comment, Emma! Supposedly the Kraken lived in the depths of the sea off the coasts of Norway and Iceland (which would be part of the Arctic Ocean), but there’s no proof that it actually existed. However, giant squids, which the Kraken was probably based on, can reach a size between 33 and 43 feet! That’s REALLY big! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What was the Kraken?
  • What creature might the Kraken have been based upon?
  • Who wrote a famous sonnet about the Kraken?


Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready for a sea adventure? Do you remember that time you sailed on a ship to the faraway port of Wonderopolis? Along the way, you encountered a sea monster of unbelievable proportions. The epic battle that followed is a story that must be told.

Since you’re the only survivor, the duty falls to you. Although it is scary to remember those times, you feel you must record the things you saw and heard and did, so that future generations of sailors might be prepared.

Write your story as a journal entry from the day of the battle. What were you doing when the creature appeared? What did you see and hear? Use as much detail as you can when describing the massive sea monster!

How were you able to survive? What happened to the sea monster? Would you ever sail those waters again? Write down your story and, if you’re brave enough, share it with your Wonder Friends by posting it on Facebook. We can’t wait to read about your adventure!


Still Wondering

Check out EDSITEment!’s It Came From Greek Mythology lesson to study basic plots of three Greek myths and discuss three common themes in Greek myths.


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